Highly Commended – Giving a Voice to Ordinary People

Just announced are the results of the Royal College of General Practitioners’ prize for research paper of the year (2008).  The paper submitted by my colleague at UCL, (the inspirational) Professor Trisha Greenhalgh (and her team) and I was given special recognition as 2008’s ‘highly commended paper’ (Patient’s Attitudes to the Summary Care Record & HealthSpace:  Qualitative Study).

Our paper evaluates the early adopter phase of the large-scale IT project that is under way to place a Summary Care record for every patient on a central store from which it can be accessed by NHS staff. We conducted interviews and focus groups to capture patients’ attitudes, including vulnerable groups who may have concerns about using the new technology as well as confidentiality. It was for bringing the patient dimension to the debate that the Panel chose to highly commend our paper. The democratization of the research process was a strong element in my PhD, so I am particularly pleased about this present commendation, as my main contribution, for this paper, was recruiting people from vulnerable groups, running the focus groups and, in so doing, giving them a voice.

So, although we didn’t win, recognising a paper as ‘highly commended’ only usually happens in exceptional circumstances, so still cause for celebration.



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